Evaluation Conducted by The University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center Also Shows NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training Students Have Lower School Absenteeism and Fewer Disciplinary Infractions than Peers

SANTA FE, N.M. (November 18, 2020) National Dance Institute (NDI) of New Mexico and The University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC) today announced findings of an evaluation report designed to understand the relationship between children’s participation in NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training programs and school-related outcomes, including school attendance, academic performance, and disciplinary behavior.

As part of its culture of assessment and ongoing improvement, NDI New Mexico already has more than a decade of separate, independent evaluations, as well as data collected from students, alumni, parents, teachers and principals.

The findings in the UNM PRC evaluation are consistent with NDI New Mexico’s previous findings that show students who participate in its programs have higher standardized test scores in writing, math, science and reading and have grade point averages 30%-40% higher than peers. Past analyses also have shown that children participating in the organization’s programs have demonstrated improvements in executive function skills such as self-control, focus, planning, and prioritization.

The UNM PRC evaluation was based on school administrative data provided by the New Mexico Public Education Department and Advanced Training program data provided by NDI New Mexico for the academic school years beginning in 2015 and ending in 2019. Key findings of the evaluation include:

  • Students who participated in NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training programs were more likely to be proficient in math, reading, and science standardized testing compared to children who did not participate. Even after accounting for demographic factors such as grade level, gender and participation in the free and reduced lunch program, NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training participants had 1.5-2.5 times higher odds of being proficient on standardized tests in those subjects.
  • Students involved in the Advanced Training program were less likely to be chronically absent from school compared to students who did not participate. After adjusting for demographic factors, students participating in Advanced Training programs had about 1.5-2.0 times the odds of having ten or fewer absences during an academic year.
  • The odds of having disciplinary infractions at school were also lower among children in NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training programs compared with non-participants. After adjusting for demographic factors, students who participated in the Advanced Training programs had 2.7 times statistically lower odds of having disciplinary infractions on record compared with students who did not participate.

“NDI New Mexico’s mission is to give children the tools they need to thrive and succeed through every phase of life,” said NDI New Mexico Executive Director Russell Baker. “The conduit is dance, performance and artistic expression, but what we really provide children is an environment where they can gain confidence, learn discipline and teamwork, set high standards of excellence and express themselves as individuals. We’re very pleased to see our mission translate into greater academic achievement and positive behavior among the students who participate in our Advanced Programs.”

Baker added, “Just as we instill in all of our students to work hard, do your best, never give up and be healthy, all of us at NDI New Mexico are committed to continually improving upon these outcomes. We look forward to working with educators, parents, and partners in the community to understand what we can do to ensure even more of New Mexico’s children have the tools they need to create a bright future.”

“School-age children in New Mexico often face myriad challenges that can have a negative impact on educational achievement and increase the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors into adulthood,” said Dr. Theresa Cruz, Research Associate Professor and Deputy Director, University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center. “Youth development initiatives such as NDI New Mexico’s programs give children additional adult support, connections with their peers and a safe environment to challenge themselves, all of which build resilience in youth. The data in our evaluation clearly shows that NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training programs are helping children perform better academically. This bodes well for their well-being in adolescence, young adulthood and beyond.”

NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training programs are conducted in Albuquerque, Española, Pojoaque Valley, and Santa Fe public school districts. Approximately 400 students in grades 4-9 participate in these programs, which include The Super Wonderful Advanced Team (SWAT) for children in grades 4-6 and the Celebration Team for students in grades 7-9. These programs are offered after school and on weekends at NDI New Mexico’s Dance Barns facility in Santa Fe and the Hiland Theatre in Albuquerque for motivated students who want to continue learning with NDI New Mexico after their in-school classes. As part of its transition to online instruction this year due to COVID-19, NDI New Mexico has been able to include students from Socorro, Silver City, and Dulce in its SWAT and Celebration teams.

NDI New Mexico’s Advanced Training students come from its In-School Outreach Program in public elementary schools, and its curriculum builds off the same methodology and youth development goals. Courses include choreography, tap, jazz, and voice. In addition, NDI New Mexico brings engaging arts and healthy lifestyle programs to nearly 100 public schools serving children in urban, rural, and Native American communities throughout New Mexico each year. Since its founding 26 years ago, NDI New Mexico has served more than 125,000 children.

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